What the government does or doesn’t do after Friday’s deadline for the full Fundudzi report to be handed over, will shape the future of international cricket in South Africa, writes RYAN VREDE.
On Tuesday CSA representatives, including acting president Beresford Williams and independent directors Marius Schoeman, Dr Eugenia Kula-Ameyaw and Dheven Dharmalingham met with a Parliamentary sports portfolio committee to discuss the mess the organisation has become. There was specific focus on the Fundudzi report, which investigated maladministration at CSA and its affiliates.
CSA had long refused to make the report public and has even put stringent restrictions on its own members council viewing it, including the requirement of signing non-disclosure agreements.
CSA finally released a summary of the report to the media on Monday morning. It details deep dysfunction within the organisation, with former CEO Thabang Moroe at the heart of this.
During CSA’s meeting with the sports portfolio committee it emerged that the latter hadn’t been given sufficient time to go through the summary report, which elicited a strong rebuke from the committee’s chairperson, Beauty Dlulane.
‘I saw a report in News24 about the same [Fundudzi] report that I was expecting we would the first to get,’ argued Dlulane.
‘We waited from June to August and almost five months down the line, we see this report in News24. I was then told that there is a summarised report in my emails and I asked for it to be to all members because we are having a meeting tomorrow. We did not have time to read it because we were in meetings.
‘Why should we wait five months and instead of being given the full report, we don’t even get given the [summary] report, which we saw in public platforms?
‘I am very disappointed with your leadership. You disrespected the same chairperson who gave you a chance whilst the members were saying don’t. You don’t even have the courtesy to prioritise the portfolio committee in Parliament.’
The portfolio committee also suggested that the delays in receiving the full report could be due to CSA tampering with the report in a bid to protect those implicated. This was strongly denied by independent director Marius Schoeman, who cited Covid-19 protocols as the sole reason for the delay.
But the government’s patience has run out. The portfolio committee forced Schoeman to agree to a 4:30pm handover deadline on Friday. Fundudzi will themselves hand over the full report, virtually eliminating the possibility of a doctored version of the document reaching the government’s desk.
What government does next, will define South African cricket.
If it deems it necessary, on the basis of the report’s finding, to temporarily assume control of CSA, or aspects of its operation, that would constitutionally force the International Cricket Council (ICC) to institute a ban from all international cricket for all South African teams. While they are banned, all funding ceases as well.
Zimbabwe suffered this fate in 2019 when their government intervened in a manner that constituted political interference, according to the ICC’s definition. They were reinstated three months later after meeting conditions for the ban to be lifted, but serious damage was done on a myriad fronts.
CSA has painted itself into a corner and the game at its elite levels has and will suffer for it. It is only the degree of suffering that remains to be seen.
I wrote in a previous column that CSA is mandated to serve the game and its people, not its own interests. They have done nothing but serve themselves in the last year, and for this there will be serious repercussions.
CSA offered that the potential for legal exposure is massive, should it release the full report publicly. This is a poor argument, given the length of time the body has had the report. Surely in that time it should have taken legal advice on ways to safeguard itself.
Instead the possibility exists that between today and the deadline tomorrow, CSA could launch a legal challenge to block its release. While committing to meeting the deadline, Schoeman intimated as much, saying: ‘I am going to give you access to the full report, but I accept I might be overruled. If that is the case, I will resign.’
If there is a legal challenge, the government will move quickly to counter with one of its own. This will surely be the ICC’s breaking point and we will then see them move to ban South Africa from international competition.
The thought is chilling. But the reality is we’re closer to this eventuality than we’ve ever been in the modern era.